Can you imagine a time long before movies, radio, television, and the Internet? Public entertainment was found in gas-lit lecture halls and opera houses. Colorful posters glued to buildings and fences announced the shows. Young and old thrilled to learn a magician was coming to town. That was the world of Harry Kellar (1849-1922), once America's most famous magician. His story is told in the well-illustrated biography The Amazing Harry Kellar: Great American Magician by Gail Jarrow.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, many of the most famous magicians touring the United States came from Europe. Kellar (born Heinrich Keller) was an exception. Born in Erie, Pennsylvania, he had to tour other continents with his magic show for over a decade before he could compete in his native land. During that time he honed his skills, learning amazing tricks and illusions, including how to levitate Princess Karnac. Eventually he became the leading American magician.
Aimed at upper elementary or middle school readers, The Amazing Harry Kellar is an attractive book filled with reproductions of original Kellar lithographic posters and photographs of the time. Its quick-reading text describes the career of a now-forgotten entertainer who paved the way for later magicians, including Harry Houdini. Good for biography reports or pleasure reading.
Jarrow, Gail. The Amazing Harry Kellar: Great American Magician. Calkins Creek, 2012. 96p. ISBN 9781590788653.